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A quick win by Croatia's top grandmaster from the Hastings Challengers' tournament .

White: A Cherniayev

Black: B Lalic

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.h3 Bh5 8.0- 0 Nc6 9.Be3 cxd4 10.cxd4 Be7 11.Nc3 Qd6 12.a3

The more direct 12.Nb5 Qb8 13.Ne5 led to nothing for White after 13...Bxe2 14.Qxe2 0-0 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Nc3 Nd5 in the game Ljubojevic-Kasp-arov at the Moscow Chess Olympics last year.

The point of 12.a3 is firstly to prevent Black from manoeuvring his knight via b4 to d5, but also to introduce the possibility of the space-gaining b4 for White.

12...0-0 13.Qb3 a6

Now 14.Qxb7 loses to Rfb8.

14.Rfd1 Rfd8 15.Rac1 b5

Black has achieved comfortable equality from the opening.

16.Qa2 b4

Otherwise White will play b4 himself with an advantage in space.


A move that looks aggressive, but is in fact a sign that White is afraid of being pushed on to the defensive if he lets Black seize the d5 square.

All the same, 17.Na4 was a good alternative, when 17...Nd5 18.Nc5 is roughly equal, while 17...Rab8 18.Nc5 a5 might even be better for White. 17...exd5 18.Na4?

Inconsistent. White's only correct path is to continue on the complications he launched with 18.Nxd5! Nxd5 19.Rc5 Nc3! 20.Rxd6 (After 20.bxc3 Qxd1+ 21.Bxd1 Rxd1+ 22.Kh2 Bxc5 23.Bxc5 Bxf3 24.gxf3 bxc3 Black has a big advantage) 20...Nxa2 21.Rxd8+ Nxd8 22.Rxh5 bxa3 23.Bc4 Nb4 24.bxa3 Nc2 when a draw is the most likely outcome.

18...Bxf3 19.Bxf3 Ne5 20.Bxd5

White overlooks my crushing 21st move. he had to play 20.Be2 bxa3 21.Bc5 Qe6 22.Qxa3 Bxc5 23.Nxc5 Qb6 when White still has chances to draw.

20...Nxd5 21.Nb6 (see diagram)

Apparently winning back the knight on d5 and simplifying to a level position. But the simplification is not so simple.

21...Nf3+! White resigns

22.Kh1 allows Qh2 mate, 22.Kf1 is met by Nxe3+, and 22.gxf3 Qg6+ 23.Kh1 Nxe3 24.fxe3 Qxb6 leaves Black a clear piece ahead.

I must admit the most frightening thing about the whole game was the startling physical resemblance that my opponent bore to Anatoly Karpov. For-tunately, his moves did not match the appearance.